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Calls for talks between unions, Ineos and Scottish Government to stop strike at Grangemouth
12:10am Monday 7th October 2013 in News
Unions have today called for urgent talks with bosses at a chemical giant, run by a Hampshire multi-millionaire, to avert strike action at an oil refinery in Scotland.
Workers at the Ineos site in Grangemouth started an overtime ban and work to rule today.
The chairman and major shareholder of Ineos is Jim Ratcliffe, the 60-year-old mutli-millionaire who lives near Beaulieu, in the New Forest.
A previous three-day stoppage at Grangemouth in 2008 was said to have cost hundreds of millions of pounds in lost production and other knock-on effects.
Any staff walk out would close one of the pipes carrying half North Sea oil production and it has been warned could even lead to power cuts.
The dispute centres on the treatment of union convenor Stevie Deans, who was also involved in the row over the selection of a Labour candidate in Falkirk.
Mr Deans, who is chairman of the constituency party, faces an investigation by Ineos over issues linked to the Falkirk row.
Workers have voted heavily in favour of action up to and including a strike - and Unite officials said they had not ruled out calling for a walkout.
Unite called for a summit with the company and politicians, and urged the Scottish government to hold an emergency debate to help prevent the dispute escalating.
Pat Rafferty, the union's Scottish regional secretary, said the company was using the Stevie Deans dispute as an excuse to introduce sweeping reforms, including pension changes, job losses, an end to collective bargaining and worse pay and conditions for new employees.
''The company is holding Stevie Deans hostage, and playing Russian roulette with fuel supplies.
''The changes being proposed are completely unpalatable to us and we feel we are being pushed into taking strike action.
''We are trying to make the company see sense, but we are not ruling anything out at this stage,'' he said.
The company has warned the site will close by 2017 without new investment and savings in running costs.
Ineos has put forward a survival plan and has asked the Scottish and UK governments for grants and loan guarantees totalling £150 million.
Scotland's Finance Secretary, John Swinney, said: ''We are currently in active discussions with the unions and Ineos in order to resolve the current situation and offer support for their future plans. We will continue those active discussions in the days ahead.''
Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe
Just last week the Daily Echo reported how a Government planning inspector threw out Mr Ratcliffe's plans for a five-bedroom mansion made mainly of glass on a site at Thorns Beach, on the 7,000-acre Beaulieu Estate.
One of those who spoke out against the proposal was the Hon Mary Montagu-Scott, daughter of Lord Montagu.
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